Months of training by toting a weighted pack up hills and 50 flights of stairs in and around the New York area proved enough training for Roger Goodell. The 50-year-old NFL league commissioner successfully ascended the 14,411 peak of Mount Rainier Wednesday morning, along with Seattle Seahawks head coach Jim Mora, Hawks CEO Tod Leiweke and the rest of the group – eight climbers and four guides in all – led by world-renowned mountain climbers Peter Whittaker and Ed Viesturs.
Viesturs took the photo of Goodell here and two more below, which include a shot of Goodell and Mora heading up the mountain, along with a group shot on Rainier. The photos are provided courtesy of the Seattle Seahawks.
Called the Climb for the Community, the event served as a fundraiser for the United Way.
Goodell said he had never attempted any type of mountaineering before, but now had a newfound respect for the skill after climbing Rainier.
"There's some fear involved," said the commissioner. "You're out there in the middle of this mountain and it's pitch black, and you're out there with 12 people or so and you have flashlights on your helmet, you're looking off the side of the mountain and literally if you make one misstep you're going down. So there was a fair amount of fear involved with it, too."
With the picturesque, majestic mountain as their backdrop, Mora and Goodell – two men who combined have been involved in the league for over 50 years – got a chance to get better acquainted during the three-day hike.
"I love Jim," Goodell said. "He's one of those passionate guys who when he sets his mind on doing something he does it and he does it well. And he loves the Pacific Northwest, as you know. And he was very proud or Rainier, and he's very proud of this region and the people.
"So it meant a lot to him what we were doing."
Goodell said he and Mora spent a sleepless night before the final ascent looking at the mountain, and that they also went to dinner together before traveling to Rainier.
Mora said the climb was an opportunity for the two men to bond, along with bringing some national attention to the Seahawks, with Seattle often taking a backseat to bigger market teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and New York Giants. Mora joked about talking to Goodell about changing the 10 a.m. kickoffs on the East Coast that the Seahawks have traditionally struggled to win in the last couple years.
Mora said watching Goodell struggle through and succeed in completing the climb up Rainier showed the characteristics that help make Goodell a successful head of the league.
"He's no-nonsense," Mora said. "I think he's fair. I think he's thoughtful about the issues that affect our league. And then after watching him perform for a couple days out there, because I think there is a carry over, you learn about a man, how he handles adversity and how he handles challenges.
"And to watch him handle these things, you think 'Yeah, this is the right guy. This is the guy I want running the league that I work in.'"
Listen to Goodell talk about the experience in this audio link.